Arabic Compounds

In all the previous lessons, we have emphasized learning solo words. We have completed the basic grammar required to construct simple sentences and phrases, and that's the definition of a compound, i.e. collection of words.

A compound can be a meaningful collection of words, i.e. a sentence. The second possibility is that a collection of words can produce an incomplete sense of a sentence, i.e. a phrase.

The Arabic term for a solo word is مُفْرَد. A مُفْرَد can be any word, i.e. a noun, a pronoun, an adjective, etc.

مفرد + مفرد = مركب

A phrase is called مُرَكَّب or جُمْلَة غَيْرُمُفِيْدَة. More commonly only the term مُرَكَّب is used for simplicity.
A sentence is called جُمْلَة مُفِيْدَة, but more commonly, only جُمْلَة is used.

جُمْلَة غَيْرُمُفِيْدَة is also called اَلْمُرَكَّبُ النَّاقِص and جُمْلَة مُفِيْدَة is also know as اَلْمُرَكَّبُ التَّام.

Is that too much basic terminology? Don't worry, that all was the introduction of terms, used in different parts of Arabic-speaking world.
You need to remember only two Arabic terms for this course. We will use the term مُرَكَّب for phrasal constructions and جُمْلَة for sentences in the coming lessons.

Phrasal constructions

Arabic phrases or phrasal constructions have several type, i.e.

  1. adjectival phrases,
  2. possessive phrases,
  3. prepositional phrases,
  4. conjugational phrases, and
  5. demonstrative phrases.

Adjectival phrase
اَلْمُرَكْبُ التَّوْصِيْفِيُّ

A basic adjectival phrase consists of two words, i.e. an adjective and a noun. The adjective describes or qualifies the noun. In English, we have equivalents of adjectival phrases like, good man, tall tree, white car, etc. If we add a definite or indefinite article, i.e. a white car or a tall tree, the construction now consists of three words. In Arabic, we already know that the definite article اَلْ is attached to the word. So, the basic construction consists of two words even with the article.

Possessive phrase
اَلْمُرَكْبُ الْإِضَافِيُّ

Incomplete sentences which show possession, e.g. Adam's house, House of David, etc. Both words in a possessive phrase are nouns. One noun shows the possession of the other.

  1. A book of Haamid
    كِتَابُ حَامِدٍ
  2. A fox of a jungle
    ثَعْلَبُ غَابَةٍ
    غَابَةٌ means a jungle. اَلْ is the Arabic definite article. Placing اَلْ at the beginning makes it اَلْغَابَةُ (the jungle).
  3. A fox of the jungle
    ثَعْلَبُ اَلْغَابَةِ

Prepositional phrase
اَلْمُرَكْبُ الْجَارِيُّ

In this type of construction, one word is a preposition and the other is a noun. The preposition describes the noun, i.e. on the table, in a box, over your head, etc.

Demonstrative phrase
اَلْمُرَكْبُ الْإِشَارِيُّ

In the demonstrative construction, one word is a demonstrative pronoun and the other is a noun. The demonstrative pronoun describes the noun.

Conjunctional phrase
اَلْمُرَكْبُ الْعَطْفِي

Conjunctional phrase consists of two or more words, combined by conjunctive/conjunctives, i.e. an apple and a date.

A date and a pomegranate نَحْلٌ وَّ رُمَّانٌ


Arabic sentences are of two types.

  1. Nominal sentences are verbless sentences.
  2. Verbal sentences have verbs.

Nominal sentence
الْجُمْلَةُ الِْاسْمِيَّةُ

The name اِسْمِيَّةٌ is derived from اِسْمٌ (noun). The English verb "to be" has no Arabic counterpart, so a sentence that has the verb "to be" when translated into English, is verbless in Arabic.

The book is new.

اَلْكِتَابُ جَدِيْدٌ.

The elephant is big.

اَلْفِيْلُ كَبِيْرٌ.

Verbal sentence
الْجُمْلَةُ الْفِعْلِيَّةُ

The name فِعْلِيَّةٌ is derived from فِعْلٌ (verb). Verbal sentences are normal sentences, like in any other language with verbs. The verb is normally placed at the beginning of the sentence in Arabic but there are other possibilities, which we will discuss in the coming grammar lessons.

The child is playing in the garden.

يَلْعَبُ الطِّفْلُ فِي الْحَدِيْقَةِ.

The teacher came.

جَاءَ الْمُعَلِّمُ.